European lawmakers extend “unfair” import tariff on Chinese solar panels

The European Commission has extended its punitive import tariffs and price controls on solar panels from China just hours before the crackdown was originally due to expire today.

The move, called an Expiry Review, will mean that the import tariffs could remain in place for several more years and possibly until 2020.

The Commission announced on Saturday morning that it would undertake two Expiry Reviews into anti-dumping and countervailing measures, and an interim review as to whether cells should remain subject to the tariffs.

The UK solar industry, represented by the Solar Trade Association, has expressed disappointment with the move which they say will continue to artificially inflate the price of solar unnecessarily.

However the EU can now, as part of its proceedings, officially consider whether the import duties are doing the European solar industry as a whole more harm than good, which the Solar Trade Association hopes will help bring the tariffs to an end.

Paul Barwell, CEO of the Solar Trade Association commented: “These price controls on imports of Chinese solar panels need to be dropped. Europe is currently paying far more than it should for its solar – and that applies both to our homeowners and our governments.”

“In the last two and a half years under these price controls and restrictions, the UK will have deployed nearly 7GW of solar PV equating to £8.5bn of investment. Over the life of the tariffs this will add £700million more than it would otherwise need to in terms of the UK’s support for solar – that is simply too much.”

“The Commission appears to be hamstrung by its own restrictive processes, where they cannot take into account the full facts. We hope this review by the Commission will check whether these price controls are in the interests of the industry as a whole.”

Much of the UK solar industry has in the past had its solar PV supplied by Chinese manufacturers, although this has reduced significantly since the price controls (called the Minimum Import Price) and anti-dumping import tariffs came into force. This is despite China’s investment in mass manufacturing of the technology.

This announcement from Brussels comes at a very sensitive time for the UK solar industry as the Government is set to decide over the next month on proposed cuts of up to 87% to the Feed-in Tariff for solar PV.